New England Transcendentalism - Research Article from Encyclopedia of Philosophy

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The Nature of Transcendentalism

"What is popularly called Transcendentalism among us," Emerson explained to a Boston audience in 1842, "is Idealism; Idealism as it appears in 1842" ("The Transcendentalist"). Yet we must add that it was a form of idealism that included and frequently confused the technical or epistemological idealism of the post-Kantian philosophers and the more vaguely understood "idealism"—in the sense of romantic aspirationism—of Wordsworth's "Intimations" ode and Novalis's Fragmente. The term transcendental was derived, Emerson claimed, from the use made of it by Kant, who had demonstrated that there was "a very important class of ideas, or imperative forms, which did not come by experience, but through which experience was acquired; that these were intuitions [sic] of the mind itself"; and that Kant had called them "Transcendental forms." This somewhat subjective exposition (contrast, for example, Critique of Pure Reason, B 25, A 11–12) led...

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This section contains 1,495 words
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New England Transcendentalism from Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Copyright © 2001-2006 by Macmillan Reference USA, an imprint of the Gale Group. All rights reserved.
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